Fully three-dimensional and viscous semi-inverse method for axial/radial turbomachine blade design

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Turbomachine blade, Impeller, Centrifugal, Three-dimensional, Inverse method, Design

Subject Categories

Aerospace Engineering | Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


A fully three-dimensional viscous semi-inverse method for the design of turbomachine blades is presented in this work. Built on a time marching Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes solver, the inverse scheme is capable of designing axial/radial turbomachinery blades in flow regimes ranging from very low Mach number to transonic/supersonic flows. In order to solve flow at all-speed conditions, the preconditioning technique is incorporated into the basic JST time-marching scheme. The accuracy of the resulting flow solver is verified with documented experimental data and commercial CFD codes. The level of accuracy of the flow solver exhibited in those verification cases is typical of CFD analysis employed in the design process in industry.

The inverse method described in the present work takes pressure loading and blade thickness as prescribed quantities and computes the corresponding three-dimensional blade camber surface. In order to have the option of imposing geometrical constraints on the designed blade shapes, a new inverse algorithm is developed to solve the camber surface at specified spanwise pseudo stream-tubes (i.e. along grid lines), while the blade geometry is constructed through ruling (e.g. straight-line element) at the remaining spanwise stations. The new inverse algorithm involves re-formulating the boundary condition on the blade surfaces as a hybrid inverse/analysis boundary condition, preserving the full three-dimensional nature of the flow. The new design procedure can be interpreted as a fully three-dimensional viscous semi-inverse method. The ruled surface design ensures the blade surface smoothness and mechanical integrity as well as achieves cost reduction for the manufacturing process.

A numerical target shooting experiment for a mixed flow impeller shows that the semi-inverse method is able to accurately recover the target blade composed of straightline element from a different initial blade. The semi-inverse method is proved to work well with various loading strategies for the mixed flow impeller. It is demonstrated that uniformity of impeller exit flow and performance gain can be achieved with appropriate loading combinations at hub and shroud. An application of this semi-inverse method is also demonstrated through a redesign of an industrial shrouded subsonic centrifugal impeller. The redesigned impeller shows improved performance and operating range from the original one.

Preliminary studies of blade designs presented in this work show that through the choice of the prescribed pressure loading profiles, this semi-inverse method can be used to design blade with the following objectives: (1) Various operating envelope. (2) Uniformity of impeller exit flow. (3) Overall performance improvement. By designing blade geometry with the proposed semi-inverse method whereby the blade pressure loading is specified instead of the conventional design approach of manually adjusting the blade angle to achieve blade design objectives, designers can discover blade geometry design space that has not been explored before.


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